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Author Topic: New member - Thanks for the useful info!  (Read 1632 times)

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Offline WriterWrong

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New member - Thanks for the useful info!
« on: August 20, 2019, 12:56:32 pm »
One of the forum administrators has asked me to do a "New Member Introduction," so here ya go!  :)

I was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1991. It has been a long and bumpy road which has included being given the "you likely have only a few months to live" diagnosis TWICE in that time. And yet, here I am.  ;)

In 1999, I had only a few dozen CD4's left and was cross-resistant to all meds.  There were no options left. As my last hope, I became one of the first patients in the USA to undergo experimental gene therapy.  (Enzo Biochem, HGTV-43 clinical trial). Immediately after, I experienced a dramatic increase in CD4 count - to nearly 600!  It was only temporary, however, as the count fell back to around 200 the next year. But I still believe that it saved my life, as the new "combo" therapies arrived shortly thereafter.  Now 20 years later, my CD4's still hover around 200, and my viral load has remained undetectable for several years (on Genvoya).

Since that medical comeback, I have been trying to focus on emotional health by keeping engaged with hobbies (filmmaking, writing and travel) and will soon celebrate the 30th anniversary with my husband!  We live in (ultra-expensive) San Francisco, so we are eagerly awaiting his anticipated retirement in a few years. We hope to move to Thailand (I lived there decades ago) or the Philippines (he was born there).   

NOTE: THANK YOU to everyone who has shared their experiences here - especially those with info on getting care and medicine Thailand or the Philippines. You have certainly helped to put my mind at ease about the upcoming new adventure.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2019, 01:04:47 pm by WriterWrong »
Living in San Francisco. Retiring to SE Asia "soon."  Mostly-retired filmmaker & writer. Avid traveler.

Offline terrymoore

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Re: New member - Thanks for the useful info!
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2019, 02:34:19 am »
Welcome! Interesting read and certainly puts a perspective on things. How did you manage so long without this forum? It really kept me sane and grounded especially at the beginning!
Thailand is a wonderful place, and like anywhere, has its pros and cons. The visa issue is a bit of a hassle and recently has become a bit more of a hassle. All in all, it is a great place to live - the cost of living is low, you can get  1st world conveniences at 3rd world prices, the people or generally friendly and tolerant, there is great medical options for relatively cheap prices and lots and lots to do!
IMHO BKK beats the Philippines by a mile - but this is me.
In Philippines you will have easier communication as
English is the used regularly (not sure if official language) . Besides that, i see no advantage - maybe things are a bit cheaper nowadays.  Anyway, good luck!

Offline WriterWrong

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Re: New member - Thanks for the useful info!
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2019, 08:13:38 am »
Thanks Terry! It is clear that you are sincere in your efforts to help people out by sharing your experiences - and that is appreciated!

For keeping my own sanity (a subjective term, isn't it?) I am fortunate that I live in San Francisco, where I am surrounded by other poz folks. I even worked at Positive Resource Center for some time. But my husband and I are definitely going to be leaving this ultra-expensive town within a few years. 

We are focused on Thailand and Philippines as I used to live & work in BKK many years ago, and my husband was born in the Philippines. The latter reminds me of the "undiscovered" Thailand of decades ago, with unspoiled beaches and serene countryside. But as I age, infrastructure (and air conditioning!) become more essential. And regarding HIV meds & stigma, your information and other research is showing me that there is no comparison - Thailand is the safest place to live if I want consistent access to meds and a more supportive community.

The POZ forums and people like you have been a huge help in this process - thanks!   
Living in San Francisco. Retiring to SE Asia "soon."  Mostly-retired filmmaker & writer. Avid traveler.

Offline Mindless

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Re: New member - Thanks for the useful info!
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2019, 12:25:46 pm »
the cost of living is low, you can get  1st world conveniences at 3rd world prices,

Sorry Terry but having being living in Thailand for 5 years Iím not sure I can agree on that ahah... If you want western goods/quality you have to pay double the price (or more) as everything imported is super taxed and the local quality (eg food, clothes etc) unfortunately still doesnít compare to western standards. I like your enthusiasm though, I could really use some these days...

I have to say the place may have also lost some of the original appeal to me since I got infected here. But thatís a personal issue. I think the country, especially the natural environment, must be completely different now from what it may use to be a few decades ago. Tourism is rampant as never before and environmental sensitivity is almost inexistent. ďUnspoiled beachesĒ? well, maybe on some very remote island in the extreme south. Nowhere near Bangkok or other celebrated locations (forget Pattaya for this).

Bangkok is a very modern cosmopolitan city, no problems about infrastructures, healthcare (given you can pay but itís generally cheaper than in the West). Health support for HIV+ people is very good.

I think Philippines are in general way much cheaper than Thailand but the country still way behind in comparison. Only traveled there for work often though, never lived there.

Chock dee! (Good luck!)

Offline terrymoore

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Re: New member - Thanks for the useful info!
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2019, 10:57:22 pm »
@Mindless...
i have lived in 4 different continents and in Asia in 4 different countries.
Thailand is MUCH cheaper than any western country i know of - all things considered.
Housing, education, clothing, food and healthcare. Also, considering that most foreigners here, who have some idea on how to structure their finances, can avoid paying any significant taxes, i stand by my previous statement - 1st world luxuries at 3rd world prices.
I suggest the next time you are in N.America or EU, go for a private doc checkup, haircut, manicure, foot massage and a seafood meal and tell me how that compares to doing the same here....and do not forget the full/part-time mae-baan!

Offline Expat1

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Re: New member - Thanks for the useful info!
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2019, 12:20:09 pm »
Thailand Pros:  Definitely easier to access a variety of cheap medicines for HIV care.
The people are usually friendly.   It is easy to come and visit for a few months before you make the big decision to permanently move.  Bangkok is your way to assure yourself that you are never bored on Friday night.  (I dont live in Bankok.)

Cons:
Incrementally more difficult visa procedures and arcane reporting requirements every 90 days, and upon returning to your own house after being abroad within 24 hours.  (Soon proposed even for visits to other provinces).

Hoops to jump through to make sure you have either the 800,000 thai baht each in bank each year and that it must be over 400,000 baht always and must be 800000 before and after your visa for several months.  Or  if you bring in money each month, it must come from abroad.  This has become more difficult and expensive since Bangkok Bank ACH transfers from US Banks through New York were nixed.  The work a round was to use Transferwise, which worked ok for a few months until Transferwise change correspondent banks in Thailand and now sometimes the transfers show up as local rather than foreign.  People were have to transfer money back to the US to again transfer it via Swift system and some were having problems with that. 

So what used to take a few days assembling documents, and submitting them to immigration, how takes those days, plus additional times to submit other papperwork and also to run down all your bank transfers to make sure they comply with immigration. So a couple of hours each month minimum.   

Additionally there is talk about making Foreigners buy health insurance (that will not cover hiv incidentally, nor preexisting conditions from private insurers and it is minimal insurance (about $12000 inpatient and $1000 outpatient) for about $2000 and up depending on age.

This seems to indicate that the current government does not have much interest in having retired foreigners live here.   I have decided to leave.  It was fun for 14 years, but this is the last year.   

Good luck and best wishes.


Offline terrymoore

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Re: New member - Thanks for the useful info!
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2019, 07:36:35 pm »
Agree that lately things have become a bit more of a hassle...but compared to other places...
Leave to where? We consider it too, but when we look at the macro numbers, for us it is much more worthwhile to live here...

Offline Mindless

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Re: New member - Thanks for the useful info!
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2019, 09:51:34 am »
@Mindless...
i have lived in 4 different continents and in Asia in 4 different countries.
Thailand is MUCH cheaper than any western country i know of - all things considered.
Housing, education, clothing, food and healthcare. Also, considering that most foreigners here, who have some idea on how to structure their finances, can avoid paying any significant taxes, i stand by my previous statement - 1st world luxuries at 3rd world prices.
I suggest the next time you are in N.America or EU, go for a private doc checkup, haircut, manicure, foot massage and a seafood meal and tell me how that compares to doing the same here....and do not forget the full/part-time mae-baan!

I think it all comes down to what you consider an acceptable standard of living: I mean, if you live the real Thai style (eg. having dinner at street food stalls every single day and not as a diversion) and donít care much about quality, then life is cheaper than in the west. But if you want keep the same/similar living standard you end up paying very similar or even more (ever bought a bottle of real wine in Thailand? I mean, not the shitty local one they call wine).

Housing may be a little cheaper but again... should we talk about air quality in Bkk or car traffic or the rate of car accidents?

The only acceptable schools are the private ones which are very expensive. In the west (Iím talking Europe), the quality is way much higher (no wonder rich Thais go study abroad). I know farang expats that took children back to Europe to study when they get to Uni age. Besides, in most European countries schools are government funded and you only partially pay.

Healthcare is fair (HIV meds are very cheap) but you need to have private insurance and you better keep your hiv+ status hidden from them or you may lose your coverage. I pay all my hiv related health expenses by myself, including examination to exclude hiv related issues (eg colonscopy).
Besides, doctors though nice and smiling still donít compare to western standards: cultural gap is not something you fill so easily unfortunately, it takes generations.

All in all, I think nowadays itís a very balanced trade-off you have to make: as I said, if you live the real Thai way, you can surely live on a few bucks but most of westerners wouldnít be able to sustain that, we are used to different standards (Iím talking about Europe cause donít really know US living standards).

IMHO of course

Hugs

PS: Iím working as an employee for a foreigner company here, so I guessI donít have many options to structure my finance but frankly, if there were options, Iíd be very grateful to be introduced
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 09:57:07 am by Mindless »

 


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